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Maine VolunteerFare

Episodic Volunteering

Published December 27, 2011

By Krysta Lilly-Brown, Maine Commission for Community Service Staff

Episodic, or short-term volunteering, is a trend that has been gaining popularity within today's volunteer sector while at the same time long-term volunteering has been declining. Typically episodic volunteer opportunities are one day events where community members, co-workers, school classes, church groups, or neighbors get together for a few hours of service. 

While there are drawbacks to this form of volunteering such as continuous recruitment, the need for highly visible outcomes, the limited focus and scope of the projects, and minimal time for training, there are also some significant advantages.  While today's busy schedule may not allow for everyone to commit to a long-term volunteer opportunity, almost anyone can and will help out for an afternoon if asked. This form of volunteering provides the volunteer with a connection to their community and a strong sense of accomplishment that makes them likely to return for more. Some employers have begun using days of service through work as a way to boost employee morale and relationships between co-workers which in turn leads to higher levels of employee attendance and retention.

Episodic volunteering may not be appropriate for all tasks, especially those that require background checks or advanced training, however, short-term volunteers can be useful and should not be overlooked. With Martin Luther King Jr. Day quickly approaching, be sure to post your MLK day opportunities/search for MLK day opportunities at!